Visit Ross Bellenoit's website
About Ross Bellenoit
Ross Bellenoit at 29 has already forged quite a career path, racking up impressive credits as a guitarist, composer and producer. After moving to Philadelphia in 2003, Bellenoit quickly became the leading axe-man for a thriving singer-songwriter scene that spawned Amos Lee (Blue Note), Birdie Busch (Bar None), and ASCAP award-winner John Francis. More recently, he's been making his mark as a songwriter himself, and also as a recording producer and arranger.
Raised in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts, Bellenoit trained on classical guitar for ten years (and viola for five) before studying jazz guitar at the University of the Arts — but Bellenoit is not the sort of musician who lets his studies do the talking. A spontaneous, in-the-moment improviser and consummate team player, Bellenoit has spent the past six years training himself to stay on his toes, and to anticipate the un-obvious. "If there's one thing that I try to keep aware of," Bellenoit says, "it's the song's temperament. Whether you're playing 'How High The Moon' to a handful of jazz aficionados or singing a folk tune that you wrote yourself, you have to surrender yourself completely to the moment. Serve the song, and the song will serve you."
Bellenoit more often than not can be found in the recording studio. He has contributed to a wide array of albums — rock records, jazz records, gospel records, R&B records, even a song about cheeseburgers written for Philadelphia Inquirer food critic Craig Laban. He's worked with renowned producers John Carter Cash, Phil Nicolo and Brian McTear — and now, working out of Turtle Studios in Old City, Bellenoit is producing records for singer-songwriters himself. His own group, The Little Rolling Thunder Revue, will release its full-length debut later this year, written and produced by Bellenoit start-to-finish.
Bellenoit has also racked up a considerable amount of touring experience, most notably touring with Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello as a member of Amos Lee's band in 2007. He's made multiple regional tours with honky-tonk group The Sweetback Sisters (with whom he appeared on NPR's "A Prairie Home Companion") and fellow Philadelphian Birdie Busch, and he joined Joseph Parsons on tour in Europe in 2008.
Though he often collaborates with singer-songwriters, Bellenoit firmly believes it's important to keep mixing things up. He continues to hone his improvisational skills with local jazz combo the Jones Quintet, while keeping country chops sharp with the Sweetback Sisters. He is also likely to pick up any instrument and make music with it — banjo, mandolin, lap steel, bass, drums, piano, you name it.
"Versatility is the key," he says. "I've found myself playing all types of music, with all sorts of people, and there was something to be learned from each experience. I'm still learning today. I pray that I'll never get to the point where I think that I know everything — where's the fun in that?"
WHAT THE PRESS IS SAYING:
"I'm not sure I've ever heard Ross play a bad note. It seems like he always finds a way to take each song to another level, but without ever distorting the original intent of the artist. That's a special gift, and probably the highest praise you can give to a producer or session musician."
- Jay Levin, Owner, Turtle Studios
'...It's worth noting that Bellenoit, AKA Rolling Thunder, is a musician who leaves cocky guitar guys in the audience squeezing their girlfriends a bit tighter on their way out the door. Bellenoit's skills are a local legend.'
- PLAY MAGAZINE, Tara Murtha
'...Bellenoit's (orginal composition) "Tria" shows his melodic and textural sensibilities as a composer.'
- JAZZIZ MAGAZINE
'...Bellenoit's electric guitar playing stands out the most, thanks to a concise solo that would have fit in on a great radio hit of the '70s, back when they'd call in the studio pro to lay one down'.
- THE DAILY HAMPSHIRE GAZETTE, Ken Maiuri
Visit Ross Bellenoit's website